"So Carnehan weeds out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top of a mountain, and the Chiefs men rushes into a village and takes it; we three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy".
Kipling "The Man Who Would Be King"
One of the books (David) Black the author quotes as a source for the stories he uses in the Harry Gilmour books was this one by James Holland - and on a whim while in town I spotted it in Waterstone's while browsing, and bought it.
SO pleased I did - the book is riveting and is my third "10 plus" of the year - it tells the story of the siege of Malta through the many eyes of both combatants (of both sides) and civilians engaged in the conflict. Nurses, pilots, soldiers, anti aircraft gunners, submariners, admin staff, entertainers, but also lots and lots of civilians having to live their lives in hellish conditions.
The book is divided chronologically, and covers each of the phases of the siege (which in order very roughly were, being attacked by Italians, then the Germans, then left alone for a bit while the Germans were busy with Barbarossa, before being attacked heavily by the Germans again) and covers the air war, the vital importance of air cover for both defensive and offensive reasons, the submarines (of course), and the role of Malta not just as an island in the Mediterranean, but as the base for vital Allied operations against first, Rommel in Libya, and secondly when that campaign was won, the second front against Sicily.
Absolutely wonderful - can't recommend it enough.. Steve the Wargamer rates this one as 10+
Little more on the Lines.. this is the Sally Port (in blue on the map above), a 6-foot-wide (1.8 m) and 8-foot-high (2.4 m) tunnel built through the West centre curtain to act as a sally port ie. a protected entry or exit to the fortification, to save the garrison having to go the whole way round every time they needed to go to either front or rear of the Lines..
Those door hinges are serious pieces of ironmongery - the gates would have been significant. The tunnel has regular passing points built in to the sides.
Couple of fascinating contemporary prints featuring the Lines.. this time from the The Easter Monday Volunteer Review in 1868. 'Nother fascinating rabbit hole by the way, as I knew nothing about these annual events..
The Reviews were begun in 1861, and basically were a military exercise in how quickly volunteer troops (later these would be designated Territorial) could be concentrated in a single spot. Reviews were held in different venues, including Brighton, Dover, Guildford, Portsmouth, Tring, and Dunstable. Each “review” consisted of a march, a sham fight, and rifle shooting.
|"The Volunteer Review at Portsmouth: The First Hants Engineer Volunteers Constructing a Barrel-Pier Bridge for the Sortie at Hilsea Lines 1868" (c) Alamy
|The Volunteer Review at Portsmouth, the Sortie from Hilsea Lines (engraving) by English School, (19th century); Illustration for The Illustrated London News, 25 April 1868.
Laters, as the young people are want to say...